Who We Are
The Aloha House of Hope is located on 190 beautiful acres located in rural Virginia. The main house is a 7,000 square foot log home overlooking a private 7 acre lake. There are 5 miles of trails that wind through the 160 acres of woods, providing a peaceful sanctuary and a place of healing for the kids that come from the worst of situations.
Each child who comes into the Aloha House of Hope is treated like family no matter how long their stay might be. All children need a family where they can feel safe and feel loved. Life at the Aloha House of Hope is all about loving on the children and pointing them to Jesus Christ.
School age children at the Aloha House of Hope are all homeschooled in the Aloha House of Hope school room using fully accredited online Abeka Academy. Abeka operates a full time brick and mortar school in Pensacola, Florida and is the leading publisher of Christian homeschool dvd’s and materials where they approach all subjects from a Christian Biblical worldview. Further Biblical instruction is given during the daily devotion time usually done right before bedtime. Everyone attends church as a family together each Sunday morning.
In order to promote a wholesome atmosphere the children are not allowed access to video games, cable or network TV, or unrestricted access to the internet (they are allowed controlled and monitored internet access for school research projects). Instead of living in the artificial world of video games and television shows, the kids at the Aloha House of Hope are allowed to live out their imaginations by exploring the woods, including the large creek that runs through it, swimming almost daily in the lake when wether permits, riding go karts and mountain bikes through the trails, building forts, and all the outdoor activities that kids in former generations used to enjoy.
During colder and inclement weather, the kids have access to a large game room loaded with just about every board game there is, ping pong, bumper pool, and skee ball. There is also an indoor above ground heated swimming pool located in the 80X50 shop located a short 10 minute walk from the main house. When the weather is nice there is a lighted 60X50 sport court where the kids can play basketball, pickleball, pop tennis, and four-square as well as riding their skateboards and bikes.
Doug and Donna
As the summer of 2013 was approaching, Doug and Donna Spencer were beginning to plan for their empty nest years as so many couples do as their children grow up and head off to college. The youngest of their six children was preparing to head off to college in the fall of 2013. Life was good for them living in Hawaii on the island of Maui. Doug, along with his four siblings, was working with the family construction company specializing in the development and construction of affordable housing subdivisions on Maui. Prior to that he had enjoyed a 15 year career as a trial attorney in Honolulu before moving to Maui to go back to his roots in residential construction. Donna had spent 20 years working with a domestic abuse shelter and had seen firsthand the tragic result broken homes had on children.
Life for Doug and Donna was a life most people only dream of; living on a beautiful tropical island where it’s always warm and sunny, spending their spare time at the beach and riding their bikes along scenic ocean routes. Doug’s parents and three of his four siblings lived on Maui where they had frequent family get togethers. In addition to work and their relaxed social life, Doug and Donna were very involved in their local church and had a large group of wonderful Christian friends.
It was against this idyllic backdrop that Doug and Donna were looking forward to the summer of 2013 with great anticipation. They had attended a nephew’s wedding at Lake Anna, Virginia earlier that spring. Falling in love with beauty of lakefront living in Virginia, it was decided that they would return in early summer to find a lakefront property in order to build a vacation cabin where they could spend summers and return to Maui in the fall. With that goal in mind, they headed off to Virginia in June of 2013 to find the perfect spot for their summer home. After arriving in Virginia, Donna left to visit her family in Pittsburgh while Doug stayed in Virginia looking at properties.
... and the story continues
After spending a couple days scouting out various possibilities for their part time residence, Doug found himself in a hotel room in Roanoke, Virginia one evening combing the internet looking at available lakefront properties in the area. Suddenly and without warning, the Lord pulled back the veil of Doug’s heart and showed him how selfish he was being. The Lord took him to James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world”.
Doug immediately fell to his knees in repentance before the Lord seeking forgiveness for his selfishness. The Lord let Doug know that he was to fulfill the mandate of James 1:27 and to take care of orphans. He immediately called Donna and in tears told her of what the Lord had laid on his heart. God had been silently working on Donna’s heart as well, preparing her for this monumental shift in their life plans.
Without any idea of how all this was to be done, Doug and Donna immediately shifted their search to a property where they could build what would later become the Aloha House of Hope. God was faithful to lead them to the 190 acres where the ministry is now located. As soon as Doug walked on the property for the first time, he knew this is where the Lord wanted them to be. Thus began this incredible journey the Lord set them on. Doug and Donna had no idea how all this was going to work out, their only goal was to walk in obedience to God’s command to them.
It took three years to wind down the family business on Maui and during the summer of 2016 Doug and Donna made the move to Virginia. As anxious as they were to get started taking in kids and getting the main house started for the Aloha House of Hope ministry, God once again had them wait as He further prepared them for what was to come. Finally in the spring of 2017, they were able to break ground on the property God had led them to during that summer of 2013.
After three years of hard work, Doug completed the house. And during the summer of 2020 they moved in the Aloha House of Hope. God didn’t wait till the house was complete however, as soon after construction began in 2017, He began bringing kids to Doug and Donna. During the three years of construction, God brought 13 kids for Doug and Donna to care for before they even moved into the Aloha House of Hope main house. Some kids stayed for a few months, other kids never left and Doug and Donna became their permanent family.
As hard as it is taking in kids from the worst of backgrounds, there is no greater joy in this life than being obedient to God’s call. Despite collapsing from exhaustion at the end of every day, Doug and Donna wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. At no time have they ever regretted giving up their comfortable lives on Maui, complete with financial security, in order to live a life of faith depending on God to provide for them. Taking care of all the kids that come through the Aloha House of Hope is a full time job for both Doug and Donna, and despite the fact they have no regular income (other than Doug’s Social Security payment each month), God has been faithful to provide for their needs. They have learned not to worry about where the money will come from to keep this ministry going and have grown accustomed to rely on the donations of people who have heard about the work God is doing here in the woods of rural Virginia.
*names have been changed to protect their privacy
Timmy, Donny, Jimmy, and Todd (ages 1 to 4) came to the Aloha House of Hope on an emergency placement the evening after Hurricane Michael hit Virginia. Their two year old brother had been found dead under suspicious circumstances and their father was a convicted felon, having sexually abused two young girls in North Carolina. Hurricane Michael had knocked down 80% of the power poles in the area and Doug and Donna were without electricity or running water. As they were making plans to stay in a hotel in Richmond till the power could be restored, Doug and Donna received the call from the social workers who had heard about their newfound ministry and asked them to take in these four kids.
That evening with only flashlights and candles for light, Doug and Donna welcomed them into their home. They arrived smelly, dirty, hungry, and were as wild as wombats. Within two days the chaos they brought into the home was nonstop and it seemed as if they would destroy the entire house.
Doug sat out on the front steps of the house two days after they arrived with his head in his hands. It would be two weeks before power and running water would be restored. He cried out to the Lord that he wasn’t cut out for this assignment of taking in orphans and confessed to the Lord that he couldn’t do it anymore. Doug asked the Lord to forgive him for being such a failure and he began formulating in his mind plans to have the social workers come back the next day and pick the four kids up. That night he went to bed feeling defeated and dejected at his failure.
When Doug woke up the next morning God had miraculously changed his heart. Instead of feeling defeated, Doug felt victorious as God had let him know that it was true that he couldn’t do what God had commanded him to do. It was God who would do the work through him. All God asked was for Doug to surrender his will to God’s will, which he had done sitting out on those steps on the porch the previous evening. From that moment on, Doug and Donna saw these four wild wombats change to four of the sweetest most obedient children anyone could ever ask for. It truly was a work of God.
This was a huge turning point as Doug and Donna realized the magnitude of the work they were taking on and could not rely upon merely their own skills as parents nor their desires to take care of these kids. If they were to devote the rest of their lives caring for abandoned children, they would need to totally surrender everything to God and allow this work to be done totally by the Lord working through them.
Jack, Georgie, and Lily (ages 6 to 11) had been living with their heroin addict father and alcoholic grandmother in a filthy rundown motel that would soon be condemned and torn down for various health department violations. Their mother was pregnant and in jail. The kids had been moved around from foster homes to relatives and back to their father since their birth. They were in their third school and were far behind their peers in their education. These three kids had witnessed terrible things no kids should ever see and had been allowed to watch movies and videos on Youtube that even adults should not be watching. All three of the kids were on heavy medications for ADHD and other diagnosed mental conditions. William was suffering from hallucinations and all the kids were defiant.
Once again, God was faithful to do a wondrous work in these kids. With the assistance of a new pediatrician the kids were weaned off all their medications within one month. For the first time in their lives, these kids heard the wonderful story of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Jack literally consumed the Bible, fascinated by what he was reading. At school, he soon became known as “the missionary” as he was always telling his fellow students about the Bible and the story of Jesus. Within a few months, Jack made the bold decision to turn his life over to Jesus. It wouldn’t be long before his younger siblings, Georgie and Lily, would make that same decision. All were baptized and welcomed into the church family. Their lives had been changed forever.
A month after these three kids come to live with Doug and Donna, the kids’ mom had been released from jail and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Paulie. Doug and Donna received a call from a social worker at the hospital asking if they wanted to take Paulie into their home. The mother had done meth during most of the pregnancy, as well as smoked and drank alcohol regularly. She had even confessed to doing meth the same day Paulie was born. The Spencers were warned by the medical staff at the hospital that little Paulie would probably suffer from withdrawal symptoms as well as have other possible physical and mental issues. Without any hesitation, Doug and Donna enthusiastically agreed to bring Paulie home. Packing up all the kids, they headed off to the hospital so they could begin bonding with Paulie. Within a few days they were able to bring him home from the hospital where his arrival was greeted with great excitement by all the children. Miraculously Paulie never suffered from any withdrawal symptoms or other health issues. It was as if God had His hands around him while in his mother’s womb, protecting him from the drugs. Paulie turned out to be one of the brightest happiest little guys that Doug and Donna had ever encountered.
These are just a few of the stories of kids whom God has brought to the Aloha House of Hope. Every child has a story and every child is entitled to be raised in a safe loving home. Sadly, many children continue to suffer in homes filled with drugs, abuse, neglect and conditions that no child should have to endure. Doug and Donna realize that they cannot save every child out there, but continue to do their small part in loving on every child God sends to the Aloha House of Hope.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”